Editor’s Note: Wendy Welch is the 2018 New River Gorge Winter Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette Flats. She will be living and writing in Fayetteville through the end of March. This is her second contribution to the Lafayette Flats blog. Wendy is the author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, and Fall or Fly: the strangely hopeful story of foster care and adoption in Appalachia. She will speak at the Virginia Festival of the Book on March 24.
The writing residency here at Lafayette Flats is now marginally closer to its end than its beginning. Pausing to take stock, I’m well-content with progress on long-overdue projects combined with some pleasant living moments:
- Drafting a work of fiction, the idea having been in my mind two years, the time to pull it out through the fingertips non-existent until Shawn and Amy’s offer appeared. 67K words have met with mixed reviews from beta readers, some of whom think the female protagonist is a flawed and understandable protagonist, some of whom think she acts so irrationally she’s not believable. I’m working on it, and taking a great deal of comfort from Nora Roberts’ famous quote: You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Preparing the proposal and writing the first half of the narrative for the sequel to Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap. Tentatively titled Bookstore, Cats: a true tale of many fine tales, this book has been lying on my conscience for a few years now, growing slowly with false starts and stops. Writing is not an efficient process, but it is fun. Finally being able to lay out all the bits and pieces, pull together what works, and thread the disparate narratives onto a common theme would never have happened without six weeks of clear thinking and space to literally place pages on the floor, walk around them shuffling, and leave them where they lay overnight. The gift of time and space here at Lafayette Flats has been awesome.
- Catching up on heretofore unseen episodes of Law and Order while tackling crochet patterns I’d always wanted to turn a hand to. I am a Law and Order freak, original series only. Life intervened during the middle years of the series and there are multiple episodes I’ve never seen. Guess what plays all day on two TV channels here in WV? Jack and I don’t have a TV back in our bookstore, so Tuesdays became my day off writing, when I could focus on creating dragonfly scarves, huge mandalas, wreaths of crocheted flowers, and the bread-n-butter moneymaker of Swiffer covers. All the things I make get sold on behalf of the cat rescue Appalachian Feline Friends (the partial subject of the book I’m now working on except for Tuesdays) so it seems like a good closed circle of spinning yarn or words.
- Attending my first-ever yoga class. It was enlightening (no pun intended).
- Making friends and going places, often out to eat with nice people who want me to understand Fayetteville’s deserved reputation as a food Mecca. Screenwriter Gena calls from Cathedral Café when she’s in town, Shawn and Amy hosted Jack and me at The Station (best mixed drinks), Karen made sure I knew about the Secret Sandwich Society and its weekend evening venue The Grove (try the mac and cheese), Vicki invited me to talk about my latest book (Fall or Fly) at Sweet T’s Bake Shop (it’s all good), and Mary Ann introduced me to the pesto pizza at Pies and Pints. The only one I haven’t reached yet is Big Dam Pizza, because as much as I’d like to try, it doesn’t seem wise to eat 28 inches of my favorite food alone.
Which brings me to even better news: as writing goals are reached, rewards follow. One of these is two writer friends coming for a mini-retreat this weekend: Willie Dalton (Three Witches in a Small Town was her first) and Martha Evans Wiley (a non-fiction work on Cumberland Gap). We might try the Big Dam Pizza, if we make our word counts.